Image via @TheRealGiniel
Image via @TheRealGiniel
Toyota Gazoo driver Giniel de Villiers’ dream of winning the first Dakar Rally to be held in Saudi Arabia is on course after a stage win on Monday saw him climb up into sixth place.
X-raid Mini driver Orlando Terranova has a lead in the overall standings of 4m43 over stablemate Carlos Sainz.
After four punctures and roughly 120km without a spare tyre, the opening day of the 42nd Dakar was not a kind one for De Villiers.
The South African, though, bounced back on Day Two.
Racing from Al Wajh to Neom along a 367km Special Stage that involved mostly tracks, De Villiers and his co-driver Alex Haro completed the stage in 3h37m20 to beat Terranova by 3m57.
One driver who did have punctures, and several of them, was Bernhard Ten Brinke. But such is the comradery of the Dakar that stage winner De Villiers stopped to give his fellow Toyota driver one of his own spare tyres.
It was, however, Terranova who took the overall lead with Sainz, sixth on the day, up to second on the log.
“It was very tricky, especially towards the end when we lost a lot of minutes,” said Sainz.
“We had trouble finding our way and had to turn back two times, 3 kilometres back and forwards. It was tricky, but at least there were no punctures today.”
Day one leader, Vaidotas Zala, who was the first car out of the blocks, finished down in 11th place, dropping to fifth.
Double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso has the eyes of the world on him as the Spaniard takes part in his first-ever Dakar Rally.
Unfortunately for him, his dreams of a top-ten showing were all but over at the end of Monday’s play.
Alonso came to a halt 160km into the stage after hitting a rock and breaking a wheel as well as his Hilux’s suspension.
The Spaniard and his co-driver Marc Coma tried to make repairs but ultimately had to wait for their assistance team. They lost two-and-a-half hours repairing the damage.
Ross Branch won his maiden stage of the Dakar on board his privateer KTM bike, taking the lead halfway through the day’s stage as early leader Joan Barreda dropped time.
Branch, the first-ever stage winner from Botswana, held onto P1 through to the finish line beating Sam Sunderland.
It is, however, the KTM works rider who holds the overall lead, 1m18 up on Pablo Quintanilla. Branch is up to sixth overall, 4m19 down.
Aaron Mare, one of five South Africans to start the bike category at the 42nd Dakar Rally, was forced to call it quits on Monday morning.
The Monster Energy rider crashed on Sunday and fractured his hand.
Stuart Gregory was the best-placed South African rider on Special Stage 2, bringing his KTM across the line in 87th place.
Kisten Landman was 97th with fellow woman rider Taye Perry P113.
Wessel Bosman Sunday’s struggles continued on Day Two as he was one of the slowest riders in action. He retired just over 200km into Day Two..
Ignacio Casale claimed a second consecutive stage win in the Quads, the 21st of his career, to increase his overall lead to over nine minutes on main rival Rafal Sonik.
“It was a good stage for me, but it was tough. The average speed was higher than yesterday. I had to be really careful with the road-book. The notes are very dense, so I often had to ease off the gas,” he told the Dakar website.
“I’m fairly happy because I had an electrical problem one kilometre from the finish. It was a problem with the battery which stopped the engine, but I managed to find a solution.
“I lost one minute, but I luckily I was able to reach the finishing line. It’s going well for the moment and I hope it will be the same for the next stages.”
Francisco López put in an epic display in the SSV class to take Monday’s win by more than 11 minutes while Siarhei Viazovich put in a flying 50km to steal the truck win from Andrey Karginov,